NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Noemi Pace

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Working Papers

July 2009Does Health Insurance Make You Fat?
with Jay Bhattacharya, Kate Bundorf, Neeraj Sood: w15163
The prevalence of obesity has been rising dramatically in the U.S., leading to poor health and rising health care expenditures. The role of policy in addressing rising rates of obesity, however, is controversial. Policy recommendations for interventions intended to influence body weight decisions often assume the obesity creates negative externalities for the non-obese. We build on earlier work demonstrating that this argument depends on two important assumptions: 1) that the obese do not pay for their higher medical expenditures through differential payments for health care and health insurance, and 2) that body weight decisions are responsive to the incidence of medical care costs associated with obesity. In this paper, we test the latter proposition – that body weight is influenced...

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